The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the cause behind the pink hue was due to halobacteria found in waters with high salinity
Most people expect to see crystal blue waters when they're in Hawaii — not a pink pond.
One body of water located in central Maui called Kealia Pond took on a bright pink hue described as “Pepto Bismol pink” by one resident about two weeks ago, according to local news outlet Hawaii News Now.
“They had heard that the water near Sugar Beach by the ponds were pink and I was like, ‘I don’t believe it, it can’t be that pink,’ ” Maui business owner and photographer Travis Morrin, who initially posted a photo of the pond on Instagram, told the outlet.
“Sure enough toward sunset the lighting was good, I just happened to drive by and I was like, ‘It’s like Pepto Bismol pink,’ ” he said.
Morrin told the outlet he began to wonder whether the pond was “dangerous,” but was “assured” by friends that it was a “natural phenomenon.” He added, “It just never happens here on Maui.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed in a statement on their official website that the bright pink hue was caused by natural circumstances, specifically by a type of halobacteria, which are archaea or single-celled organisms that thrive in highly salty bodies of water.
Bret Wolfe, a manager at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, told the Associated Press that after testing the water, they found that the salinity levels inside the Kealia Pond are currently greater than 70 parts per thousand, which is twice the salinity of regular seawater.
As for why the pond turned pink now, Stephanie Stack, chief research biologist for Pacific Whale Foundation, explained to local station KHON2 News that the current drought conditions on Maui could have contributed to it. She said that the pond was previously connected to the ocean, but lack of rain has dried up the connection.
“That has caused some algae and bacteria to bloom, some species that are very salt-tolerant and that thrive in a salty environment,” said Stack. “The freshwater is evaporating and leaving behind a lot of salt and so that’s leaving it with this beautiful pink color.”
She also noted that the algae left behind have the “beta carotene pigment” in them, similar to carrots and that the water has “nothing manmade or toxic that we need to be concerned about.”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Samples of the water have been taken by the Hawaii Department of Health to be analyzed at the University of Hawaii, according to KHON2.
As the water is being analyzed, authorities warned people to avoid drinking, swimming in or eating fish caught in the water, per the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's statement.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.